RICHLAND -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today set earlier
and longer than usual waterfowl hunting seasons, among other action, at their meeting
Statewide duck hunting will open Saturday, Oct. 4, 1997, a week before the
traditional second-Saturday-of-October hunting opener . The season will run through
Saturday, Jan. 17, 1998, making it two weeks longer than last year's in western
Washington and one week longer than last year's in eastern Washington.
Goose hunting will open Oct. 11, 1997 and spans Jan. 18, 1998 in most of western
Washington (through Jan. 4 in Island, Skagit, and Snohomish counties) and in all of
eastern Washington; as usual, hunting is open only on select days of the week during
that season in southwestern and eastern management areas. The westside season is
a week longer than last year's to address agricultural damage situations; the eastside
season is the same length as last year's.
Duck hunters will be allowed to take up to two hen mallards and three pintails in
their daily bag limit of seven ducks. Last year only one hen mallard and two pintails
were allowed among the daily limit of seven ducks.
Federal guidelines for season length and species bag limits on waterfowl (which
are migratory between states) allowed for the expansions because North American
duck production is at record levels due to more water in breeding areas.
"The good news from this Pacific Flyway information is not just for waterfowl
hunters," said Commission chair Lisa Pelly, "but also for anyone who loves to watch
these migratory birds this fall. I encourage viewers to get out and enjoy them, too."
The Commission also set a special statewide youth duck/coot hunting day on
Sept. 27, and an eastern Washington youth upland game bird hunt on Sept. 27-28. The
hunts are open only to hunters 15 years of age or under if accompanied by a non-
hunting adult of at least 18.
By Commission approval, the non-toxic shot requirement for waterfowl hunting
now also includes tungsten-iron shot.
All waterfowl hunting season and rule details, including the southwest's dusky
Canada goose quotas and a special late, westside damage-control hunt for Advanced
Hunter Education program graduates, will be available in the Washington Department
of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) migratory bird hunting pamphlet as soon as it is printed
and distributed to hunting license vendors and WDFW offices early next month.
In other action the Commission:
- Classified the Oregon spotted frog as a state endangered species because it is
now found in only ten percent of its western Washington range; downlisted the
Aleutian Canada goose from endangered to threatened status because recovery efforts
have increased its numbers in Washington; downlisted the gray whale from
endangered to sensitive status because years of protection have returned its
abundance to historic levels; and dropped from any listing consideration the Olive
Ridley sea turtle because its range does not include Washington;
- Adopted a lake and stream rehabilitation policy that gives the WDFW director
authority to determine waters that need treatment and subsequently needed
sportfishing rule changes, all in compliance with state and federal laws and with public
involvement in the process;
- Established game reserves at Fir Island Farm, Debay's Sloughs, and Hayton
Farm in Skagit County to protect wintering Wrangle Island lesser snow geese and
trumpeter swans, and on the public land (Bureau of Land Management ownership) at
Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County to protect lesser Canada geese;
- Set 1997-2000 trapping seasons and rules on an emergency basis to allow this
fall's trapping to get underway, but with the intent to re-consider them in December to
allow more public input on proposals to require use of padded foot-hold traps in all dry
land sets not capable of killing the animal, and reduce the trap-check time from every
72 hours to every 48 hours; and
Adoption of Pacific halibut management policies was delayed when the
Commission directed WDFW staff to present a more definitive plan for working with the
commercial fishing industry to reduce bycatch or accidental harvest losses. When
adopted via conference call later this month, the policies will guide WDFW negotiations
this fall with the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the Pacific Fishery
Management Council to protect the future of halibut and allocate recreational and
commercial harvest including compliance with a federal court decision on tribal/non-
- Returned to a spring time period for adoption of fall game hunting seasons and
rules to better use more complete field data and to promote better public involvement in
the season-setting process.